Looking for something new to do this weekend without breaking the bank? Be a tourist in your own town! Now, I know that may not sound very exciting to some, but every town/city has something to offer and it could be a lot of fun and educational as well.

To start off, does your town have it’s own historical society? Most do and usually have a website to go with it. Pretend you’ve never been to your town/city before and look at all the stuff you can check out if you where visiting for the first time.

You can make a list (yes, I’m having you make a list, but trust me, it will be fun) of all the attractions, restaurants, parks, gardens……..anything and everything you can find that peaks your interest. If not, find something new, you may just be surprised at what you can learn at your local library (that’s free too, by the way).

For example, I live in Seattle. There’s so much to do here, I decided to make it my home. I’ve learned that on Sunday’s, it’s free parking on the streets, no need to plug the meter. Many times we’ll pack a lunch, park near Seattle Center and take the kids down to the fountain to run themselves silly. Other times we’ll just park somewhere near the waterfront and do our “urban hiking” through Pioneer Square. You can catch the Underground Seattle tour and learn a whole other side of Seattle you never knew.

I’ve also invested in memberships for the Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle Aquarium, Seattle Art Museum, Museum of Flight and recently, EMP/SFM (Experience Music Project / Science Fiction Museum). The best thing about being a member, you can go as often as you want for as long or little as you want. Plus, it’s something we use all year long, no matter how wet or sunny it is. But if you don’t have the budget for memberships, check out your local attraction’s websites for coupons or discounts. Sometimes you can even get in for free if you go on a certain day of the week, for example like the first Tuesday of the month.

Seattle Center often has free events that are perfect for the kids. It’s a great way to learn about different cultures, local artists, trying new foods…..the list goes on.

Another fun place to visit for cheap is Pike Place Market. Yes, you can eat at the same restaurant Tom Hanks and Rob Rhiner did in Sleepless in Seattle, but if fried fish and clam chowder isn’t your thing, pack a lunch and have cheap snacks. One of our favorites is the Cinnamon Works, they have ginormous snicker doodles as well as vegan baked goods. One cookie can feed the 4 of us (or one, depending on who’s pigging out). You can sample local honey, smell the flowers, taste local fruits and vegetables, watch the fish being tossed and listen to a variety of street performers playing their tunes on anything from a piano to an accordion and a saw (honest!).

Find out what your town/city has to offer. Your city park may have free concerts for the different holiday’s. I know down at the Hiram M Chittenden Locks, aka: Ballard Locks (it’s free to visit) they’ll have a band playing on the weekends near the gardens during the summer. The kids love watching the boats go up and down in the locks and the fish ladder viewing room is always cool to look at. Catch salmon season and you’ll be able to watch the fish jump out of the water. A little tip, park on the south side of the locks for free parking.

If you enjoy exercise and watching people, Green Lake is a great place to go. It’s 2.8 miles around the inner loop, you get a full view of the lake as well as some interesting people, dogs, bikers, and skaters to watch. I’ve even seen a unicyclist. There’s a great park for the kids to play and even a wading pool to cool off in during the summer months.

Another personal favorite is Alki Beach. It doesn’t matter what time of year you go, the view is spectacular, the beach is clean (and yes, that beach scene in Sleepless in Seattle was filmed there too), the biking path is roomy and there’s lots of benches to rest and enjoy the view.

Look around your area for local parks, water features, gardens, statues, anything and everything you can think of and make it fun. Does you town/city have some great walking paths? What about a local farm? When I was a kid I lived in Wyoming for about a year. One of our field trips was to a local ranch where they raised sheep. We got to see a sheep being sheered and even got to keep a sample of the wool.

Just a few weeks ago we drove up to Marysville, WA for the Tulip Festival. We had to pay a small fee to get into the display gardens, but it was worth it! Even my 4 year old enjoyed it. After, we drove past several of the fields of brightly colored flowers and took a ton of pictures.

It doesn’t have to be expensive to be fun. You don’t need some big theme park with overpriced food, long lines and huge crowds to entertain the family. If you plan a little, do some homework, you just may be surprised to find some very cool stuff you never noticed before in your own town.

Author's Bio: 

Kathleen lives in Seattle with her husband and two young son's. Both her kids have Type 1 Diabetes, so she's found a creative way to work from home and still be able to take care of their medical needs. She enjoys writing, reading, working in her garden and living life to the fullest.